Quiet Utility

Textron boosts its off-road offerings with the Prowler Pro lineup.

Textron Off Road checked the durability of the Prowler Pro series with more than 1,000 hours of testing, Image by Chris Hill

The first thing you’ll notice about the Textron Off Road Prowler Pro series is how you can carry on a conversation while driving.

You don’t have to yell.

It’s not hard to find quiet in the rugged hills of California’s Central Coast, where the company offered journalists some driving time; but the lack of background noise helped to accentuate the limited sound coming off the new machines.

The 812-cc, 50-hp Chery engine on the Prowler Pro and the Prowler Pro XT versions puts out 76 decibels (dB) while driving and 58 dB while idling. For comparison, a passenger car traveling at 65 mph registers roughly 77 dB from 25 feet away, and a running air-conditioning unit from 100 feet away creates about 60 dB. The liquid-cooled four-stroke gas engine has a 4-cylinder dual overhead cam.

Ted Bettin, senior project manager for Textron Off Road, was lead engineer for the Prowler Pro project.

“The engine is extremely smooth and quiet, and is one of the key attributes we used here for getting the noise down,” he says.

The machines also offer an electronic throttle control system Bettin says is similar to what most people have in their car. “So, upon acceleration, you’ve got a nice, smooth, easy driveaway operation; so, as you go over bumps, you don’t get the ‘herky-jerky’ motion.”

It also features a continuously variable transmission and an electronic actuator for the front differential. “It’s a basic gear case that operates just like your 4WD pickup truck,” Bettin adds. The rear differential is selectable locking.

SERVICEABILITY. The nature of off-road vehicles requires attention to design that incorporates access to service points that do not require tools. The Prowler Pro engineers kept this in mind with a simple-to-remove front panel for access to the brake reservoir, fuses and radiator bottle.

For oil filter access, Textron designers added a small panel just under the center of the three-passenger seat area. “With a lot of products, you have a hard time getting to the oil filter,” Bettin explains. “With this, I can take the seats out, pull the access panel off, and my oil filter is right here. So, it’s very easy for the service people to get there.”

Textron added quarter-turn fasteners to help in removing engine access panels underneath the bed. Featured on the passenger side is a two-stage air filter, a 75-amp alternator and space for dual batteries.

The driver side offers access to the transmission. “We’ve got quick-release pins in there,” Bettin says. “If something goes wrong, you don’t need tools to get at it. Snap those off, change your belt if you have to, and you can get at it.”

OPERATOR FEATURES. Textron kept the operator in mind with several design elements. The Prowler Pro line features a column shifter on the tilt steering wheel for easier shifting.

Engineers also incorporated a speed-limiting feature that is code-lockable.

“It comes out of the factory at 45-plus mph, and then you can program it down to 25 mph by 1 kilometer per hour increments,” Bettin explains. “So, for different people and different applications, they can actually program in a speed. If you program it at 25, it will stay at 25. You can set it for a variety of conditions.”

Textron designers also attempted to maximize ease in entering and exiting the Prowler Pro but maintaining its 10.75-inch ground clearance with a low-profile door.

The company added multiple storage areas with capacity in the doors themselves, the dash area, plus rear storage behind the seat backs. The two sections of the seats, the center and primary passenger, can be removed to provide even more storage next to the operator.

Payload capacity is 1,500 pounds, with a 1,000-pound cargo box capacity and a 2,000-pound towing capacity. More than 50 accessories also are available.

The Prowler Pro comes in the base model color Marsh Green and has a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $11,399. The Prowler Pro XT is available in Dynamic Charcoal and Fire Red, and features electronic power steering and aluminum wheels with 26-inch Pro Terrain tires. The MSRP is $12,999. Both models are available now and come with a 12-month warranty.


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